Karis: The call of the wild, growing quieter
September 16, 2010
Deep within us is a buried chord that is often un-struck. When we are close to nature, it resonates like an instinctive tuning fork and we experience something within us – scales fall from our eyes, masks disappear, burdens are laid down, life becomes simplified. We feel once again restored, when we are one with the wild.
If we live in the mountains, it’s because something inside us sought out this chord. We felt a call to it, or we remembered it from some distant past and longed to hear it again. We moved here to be close to it, that we might hear it more clearly, experience it more often, if not all day long. Not to see it with our eyes or touch it with our feet, but to feel it in our core, our gut, in our very being.
It is heard best in stillness, but we come to it in different ways. We might know it when we’re standing alone in a stream, drifting a fly in an eddy or shuffling through deep glades of snow, on a bright blue-sky day. It might come to us sitting quietly in a blind, in the cold, clear dawn or in the stillness of a forest floor, our footfalls making the only sound.
It’s a natural, wild chord, uncultivated and uncivilized but perfectly ordered and constantly strummed by nature’s hand. For those who have felt it come upon them, stilling them, they know what a beautiful sound it is.
Lately, that sound has been getting harder and harder to hear, if not vanishing altogether. We move ourselves closer and closer to nature, but it gets no louder. Casting about for a reason, we find in our backtrail something has been following us. Our dis-chord. Unconsciously, but often by design, we have tethered ourselves to accustomed habits, comforts and insanities of “civilization,” which brings with it not only its own background noise and disorder, but a synthetic, man-made chord.
Acres upon acres of yellow-striped asphalt, box upon box of concrete and steel, hundreds of mechanized transport carrying thousands of scurrying humans, rushing about like little frantic ants whose hill has been kicked over, all make a discordant hum. And when man has dragged a sufficient amount of his comforts with him, paved enough land, constructed enough buildings, cut enough trees, diverted and polluted enough rivers – when man’s presence is impactful enough – he can no longer hear the sound, nor can it call to him, deafened as he is by the drone of urbanization.
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Thus, he listens only to his synthetic nature, and though it quickly complicates and fetters him anew, he stays tethered because he has no other truth. Unbeknownst to him however, the tether shortens. What he once pulled at a distance comes closer with each passing year, until it ends up overrunning him, consuming him in his entirety and in all-too-short a time, buries him. Empty.
The next time you’re out in the wild, stop and listen. There, in the faint, far distance, just outside the neat borders of our fences, is the Chord being struck. It is the call of the wild.
John Karis is writer and facilitator in Blue River